Alchemical Thoughts

Study finds weaknesses in Texas teacher education programs

Posted on: April 29, 2010

The National Council for Teacher Quality released today a study entitled "Ed School Essentials: Evaluating the Fundamentals of Teacher Training Programs in Texas" The study focuses on the state of Texas, and it looked at 67 undergraduate programs judging them by 25 standards that concentrate on the design of the teacher education programs. In other words, they are looking at what goes into the programs in order to produce good teachers. Texas overall did not fare well. You can read the full report online as well as look over various summaries and analytical tools in order to make sense of the data. Schools of education often question the NCTQ and its methods, so you can even see how schools commented (if they chose to do so) and then how the NCTQ answered those responses as well. An interesting feature, which may be of interest to parents and prospective students is the Texas Ed. School Consumer's Guide. You can browse the list of undergraduate institutions to see how they did in a specific criterion, say standards for elementary teacher preparation, or you can search for a specific school. I ran a search for UT Tyler, which is where I am currently employed to see how our school of education did. Let's just say that the results are mixed, and that the administration did choose not to comment on the study (noted in the document). You can go to the site and look up any of the 67 schools in Texas they studied.

Overall, it seems Texas prefers to simply lean back on the fact that the TEA (Texas Education Agency) approves of their programs, or that they have NCATE approval (an accreditation agency for teacher education programs, which you can debate whether some of their standards are as strict or not. NCTQ would argue that in some cases, the NCATE standards are not as stringent as could be), so therefore a reviewer like NCTQ does not really matter. Overall, looking through the documents does give a good look at how teachers are prepared in Texas, what is failing, and what needs work.

Personally, I do find interesting that this report is not getting any press coverage or mention in any local media. I kind of wonder how our local professors would respond to it, if they even would choose to acknowledge it. I also find it interesting because this report comes in the heels of all the hoopla over the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) rewriting of school and textbook curricula that is blatantly partisan and misinformed. You can get a little background on the SBOE and social studies standards from the Texas Freedom Network here. Even historians are concerned about this (via Houston Chronicle; This is just one example. Just run a Google news search, or on the search engine of your choice. Texas meddling with educational standards is pretty much becoming a national joke). So, one has to wonder. Water and dumb down the school curriculum, and then we get a study revealing that teacher education in the state could be weak. If that does not concern folks who have an interest in giving their children a solid and substantial education that will enable those children to be productive, educated, and informed members of society, I am not sure what will.

A hat tip to Inside Higher Ed

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April 2010
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